A rich history adorns the Mexican Hairless: also known as the Xoloitzcuintle, which means God-dog, it was thought by the Aztecs to be a gift from the gods that was endowed with many magical and special qualities, including healing and protection. These dogs were also used as bed warmers as they are remarkably warm to the touch.
Unfortunately, they were also valued greatly for their flesh and were eaten as a delicacy, as well as sacrificed to the gods. It was also believed that the dogs knew the way to the ‘Land of the Dead’ and they were therefore often sacrificed upon the deaths of their owners and buried with them in the tomb.
The Mexican Hairless has been close to extinction on more than one occasion: the breed was decimated in the conquest of the Aztecs in the sixteenth century and in the political revolution in Mexico in the early twentieth century. In 1954, an expedition was mounted by scientists, conservationists and dog breeders to save the ‘Xolo’ from possibly extinction. The Mexican expedition, led by Norman Pelham-Wright, managed to collect some unrelated examples of the breed to form a workable conservation programme based in the USA, Canada and Europe as well as Mexico. A breeding pair came to London Zoo in 1956.
Fortunately, the breed survived, and gained a devoted, if specialised, following. It is not a breed that is ever likely to be numerically great: its lack of ‘cuddlesome’ appeal, due to its naked skin, does not lend itself to public popularity. However, those who get to know the breed will vouch for its intelligence and exotic charm. These dogs are hardy and healthy and make excellent companions.
The breed comes in three sizes. Obviously no grooming is required, but the skin can be kept in good condition with the application of baby oil or moisturiser.
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
Once a week
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Small or Large House
Minimum Garden Size
Over 10 Years
* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on
the Kennel Club website.
Utility Breed Group
This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle.
The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.